Mar 21, 2012

Full Circle

In college, I had the opportunity to take a few ceramics classes. It was an escape from work and a heavy load of business courses and it helped to pay for books and tuition.

When my wife and I were planning our wedding we decided it would be appropriate to give a goblet to each guest as a wedding favor. I spent hours throwing, and trimming, and glazing, and firing. It was a real commitment and a healthy endeavor as I prepared to commit to my beautiful bride.

The wedding was wonderful. My wife was gorgeous; my friends say that I "married up!" Other than the set we kept, the goblets disappeared. I almost forgot about them until today.

My wife and I met while working for Young Life, an organization near and dear to my hearts. The man who led our Young Life club in High school performed our wedding ceremony. Nearly a decade later, my wife and I are privileged to help out with Young Life in our community.

I spent the last two days at a regional training for the ministry, led by my former Young Life leader who also oversees the ministry in Colorado and Utah. He prepared communion for those in attendance and I was shocked to see two familiar goblets. He has been serving communion out of those vessels since our wedding date.

It blessed me to know that these had been used over and over to point to Christ and His Mercy. God had a plan for that mud!

For we know that all things work together for good for those who love the Lord, and are called according to His purpose.

Romans 8:28

Loud Song - Thought Provoking Lyrics

I usually listen to Slacker Radio while I shave and today this song came on. It is called "Afterlife," and it is by the band Switchfoot. The song is loud but the message is good. Here are the lyrics:

I've tasted fire, I'm ready to come alive
I can't just shut it up and fake that I'm alright
I'm ready now, I'm not waiting for the afterlife

The way I feel inside, the way the day begins
I'm ready now, I'm not waiting for the other side
I'm ready now, I'm ready now

'Cause everyday the world is made
A chance to change but I feel the same
And I wonder why would I wait till I die to come alive
I'm ready now, I'm not waiting for the afterlife, yeah

I still believe we can live forever
You and I, we begin forever now, forever now, forever
I still believe in us together
You and I, we're here together now
Forever now, forever now or never now

'Cause everyday the world is made
A chance to change but I feel the same
And I wonder why would I wait till I die to come alive
I'm ready now, I'm not waiting for the afterlife

Everyday, a choice is made
Everyday, I choose my fate
And I wonder why would I wait
Till I die to come alive, to come alive

Everyday, everyday, everyday, I still feel the same
And I wonder why would I wait till I die to come alive
I'm ready now, I'm not waiting for the afterlife
I'm ready now, I'm ready now, I'm ready now, I'm ready
I'm ready now, I'm not waiting for the afterlife.

It takes me back to John 10:10, "Christ came that we would have life, and that we would have it more abundantly."

You were created for greatness. Christ lives in you TODAY. How are you coming alive?

Mar 8, 2012

Running Amuck on God’s Ranch

Living a life of scarcity in the midst of God’s abundance.
We live in the West and we love it out here. We have quite a few ranchers and plenty of space for grazing. I have had the opportunity to help out and do a bit of work moving cattle. At a dinner a while back I had the joy of sitting next to a rancher and his wife. I felt pretty proud of myself when I was able to use a bit of the lingo. I asked the old rancher if he was running cow-calf pairs. He said he was and we talked a bit about it. I then asked him how many pairs he had. He folded his arms and said; “Now son, you never ask a rancher that! That’s just like askin’ how much money a man has saved up at the bank.” 

Raising livestock is the same, in many ways, as it was thousands of years ago in Bible times. We read about wealth in the Old Testament all the time. Verses throughout speak of how many sheep and goats a family had. Before there was currency folks bartered and a reasonable measure of trade was an animal.
For every animal of the forest is mine,
and the cattle on a thousand hills…
The world is mine and all that is in it.

                        Psalm 50: 10-12

David believed that all of the cattle belonged to the Lord. His wealth and everything he had was from God. David realized that he was on God’s Ranch, watching only a handful of the animals and that he was called to shepherd those resources well.  
Do we believe that today? 

In 2011 lenders foreclosed on more than 100 churches. In the U.S., Ministries are underfunded, non-profits are struggling and statistics show that church attendance is up while gifts in the offering plate are shrinking.

Something has gone very wrong! We are not living as if God is in charge of the ranch. Christ came that we would have life and that we would have it more abundantly. In the midst of it all, Christians are living in a mindset of scarcity. Instead of giving, we are hoarding. Instead of trusting in God as our provider and the true owner of our wealth, we have taken over the ranch and run-a-muck. Our cattle are spread out and poorly tended to. If we are to save the ranch we must immediately put God back in his place and trust him as we steward his resources. 

Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.
                        1 Timothy 6:17

Where do we start?
Realizing our true capacity. The first step is to account for our resources… all of them. This doesn’t mean we need to create a detailed net worth statement--that would be far too short-sighted. We need to look beyond assets and debts. What experience do you have, what relationships? What knowledge do you possess? What memories are important and what values do you cherish? Do you have influence in your neighborhood, workplace or community? What are you passionate about? What makes you feel strong? What makes you come alive? List them. “Count your blessings, name them one by one.”
These are the resources that God has provided for you. He made you and knows everything about you. He packed your bags with these specific things to serve a purpose and to love others.
Realizing the need. Now look around the community. What do you see in disarray? Who is in need? What is the ideal future for your community or your ministry? A group called Hillsong has a great song with this lyric; “Break my heart for what breaks Yours, Everything I am for Your Kingdom’s cause.” Pray that the Lord would show you needs in your community. Write down the needs as you see them and determine which you are called to fill.
Play the matching game. Now combine your strengths to fit the need. Again, the financial gifts are just the beginning. Find a way to use the other resources you have as effectively as possible. Prudent planning will allow you to make more of an impact, meeting more needs than others could ever dream of filling because you are using your gifts for their intended purpose. Like using the right tool for the right job, you will get the work done efficiently and effectively. By looking for needs and seeing the strengths and passions you have, you will find meaning and purpose and you will be able to meet needs with joy and ease. 

Collaborate. Just as your bags are packed for a certain purpose, your neighbors are as well. God created us to be unique. They say that the jack of all trades is the master of none. Find out what you are good at, and what you love, and stick to that. Find others who have resources and talents that you don’t and work along side those individuals. As you seek a common goal of furthering the kingdom together you will sharpen each others skills along the way.
God owns the ranch. His resources are abundant. Let’s begin to shepherd them well together. As we do, real change and abundant stewardship will begin to be the norm. As we move from a mentality of scarcity to the ‘life to the full’ that Christ promised, we will see healing in our homes, our communities and our country.

Mar 7, 2012

The Integrated Life: Book Review

Just picked up this book and read it on a flight. You can buy it here. The book talks about the different hats we wear throughout the week and the responsibilities we have. The author suggests that many folks live a compartmentalized life. Through the book he shares the idea of a life where those compartments don’t exist; he calls it The Integrated Life. He shares the efficiency, the value and the fulfillment of working your faith into every part of your life and creating one hat that suits us all the time. This leads to a more productive and more rewarding life.

John 10:10 comes to mind. Christ came that we might have life, and that we would have it more abundantly.

I loved this book and I believe the message was right on. I have had the joy of giving three copies away since I read it. Please consider picking this up. The folks who wrote it are making a difference, not just through the book but in a big way here: Living Stones Foundation

Abundance Is Our Future: Peter Diamandis

Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.
1 Timothy 6:17-19

If you read my last post you heard that you are one of the wealthiest people on earth. I love the verse above. I am so thankful that God provides us with everything for our enjoyment. I also love when I see people recognizing this abundance and using it for good works. Here are a few examples.

An organization called Faith Comes By Hearing has been in ministry for 40 years and is using the technology that Peter speaks about in this video to share the gospel around the world. 
Because of this abundant technology, the timeframe it takes Wycliffe Bible Translators to translate the Bible to a persons native tongue is getting exponentially shorter. Bob Creson, Wycliffe's CEO, spoke at a recent conference I attended and told the story about how much this technology is changing their ministry and changing lives.  They expect to have completed this work by 2025.

Thank God for our abundance abundance; may we see it in the midst of our countries mentality of scarcity. What can you do with the abundance he has provided in your life?

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